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What is Tenkara fly fishing? Simple, elegant form and movement characterises Tenkara fly fishing. Literally translated as Rom heaven' or 'from the skies' this Japanese form of angling was first practiced by freshwater anglers amongst the cool lakes and streams of the Japanese mountains.
This distinctly Japanese form of angling developed separately from western-style fly fishing despite its numerous similarities. It is thought to have started over two centuries ago and was documented by a British diplomat who observed the techniques of Japanese mountain fishermen who used it effectively to catch indigenous species such as the trout-like Yamame and Amago. The long, lightweight bamboo rods used by Japanese mountain anglers did not require reels but relied on their length to reach where needed. An artificial fly made from fibres, fur and feathers known as ebari' are used similarly to western forms of fly fishing.
Tenkara fly fishing techniques
The choreography and form of tenkara fly fishing is optimized for maximum efficiency of movement and a focus on the act of fishing itself rather than the handling of equipment. This is not surprising given the Tenkara technique was originally for catching large quantities of fish quickly. This streamlined approach is certainly admired by anglers of all kinds, but some just cannot get to grips with fishing without a reel. Despite this, the Tenkara approach to angling is growing in popularity across the world. There are a variety of Tenkara fly fishing methods but essentially this fixed fly-line technique uses the line itself and prevailing winds for optimal placing of the fly over and into the water with good drift. What comprises the ideal Tenkara fly fishing kit?
Firstly, a long lightweight and flexible rod. Tenkara fly fishing rods are usually up to 4.5 meters long. They were originally crafted from bamboo but fiberglass and carbon commercial models are available from reputable retailers. Modern rods tend to be telescopic with a wooden or cork handle. The light weight tapered line is usually as long as the rod and is critical to propulsion of the fly when casting. A 30cm to 1m length of tippet - called ea' in Japanese connects the fly to the line, just as in western fly-fishing. The 'kebari' completes the set-up.
Are there Tenkara rods for sale? Tenkara fly rods are an ideal investment if you want to master this reel-less fly fishing technique. Look for a specialist retailer who will able to direct you to the best tenkara rods for a novice. Length is critical to the technique and most telescopic rods come in 7 to 9 pieces which connect for optimum length. A number of good quality starter kits which include not only pole but rod holder, line, with line holders, tippet and a selection of flies.
And Tenkara fishing line?
Tenkara fly line has not been left undisturbed by the advancements seen in other areas of angling. Far from the basic furled or level lines traditionally used there are now a variety of lightweight and small-diameter fly lines on the market. Many of these are essentially regular floating fly lines but cut shorter.
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